The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).
Even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His Throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (Zechariah 6:13).
The vaster values of life immortal that are enjoyed and exercised beyond the veil, are incorporated in a great and gracious priest, enthroned upon cherubim (Psalm 99:1 R.V.). This glorious Person is replete in resourcefulness and radiantly environed in eternal splendor. Wherefore, being in command of these priestly powers, He is adequately adapted and ably qualified to save to the uttermost. The secret and security of His supernatural office rests upon the superior character of His investiture, which is by divine oath, "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for every after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4). The meaning of this name is unique, signifying royal dignity. "King of righteousness, and...King of Peace" (Hebrews 7:2). These titles are indicative of spiritual values, they verify the veracity of Christ's being the Covenant of peace, for He is our peace, combined with the virtue of His immaculate character, "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6).
These inestimable characteristics of this royal priest are both bountifully expressed and beautifully exhibited in the bestowment of the riches of His grace and the blessing of His boundless mercy. Grace is the free unmerited favor of God to the undeserving, while mercy is the fragrant unlimited kindness of God to the undesirable. For as much as righteousness and peace have been personified in Christ our Priest, the same is equally true of the kindness of God (Titus 3:4).
In the light of who He is, what He is, and whence He came, it becomes more and more obvious that our Lord did not desire nor require this world to bestow its honor, sanction its power, impart its riches or confer its titles upon Him. By virtue of His capacity as priest, He is able to lift man to the same independent status. Notice that an example of this is given in the chapter where the words king and priest first occur in the Bible. It is written that when the king of Sodom was son his way to meet and greet Abraham the hero, Melchizedek intervened first, as priest of the Most High God, and made Abraham independent of anything the world had to offer. Therefore the patriarch overcame the world both in its attitude of hostile attack and in its humane hospitable gestures, and he refused to accept even a shoelace from the captured spoils. Christ taught that life did not consist in the things possessed. Real treasure and true wealth consists in the degree in which we know and enjoy fellowship with divine persons.
The title, Priest, incorporates the most descriptive and distinctive characteristics of Messiah's manifold ministries; it is likewise associated with the widest range of His remarkable renown, and demonstrates the deepest display of His sacrificial devotion, by virtue of which He secured the utmost degree of dominion. As Priest of the Most High God, He establishes the interminable office of mediation for nations, peoples, and tongues, the basis of the inestimable blessings of salvation for mankind, and the incalculable maintenance for myriads of the redeemed everlastingly. We need to take into account the imperishable forces of His regenerative power, the immeasurable fullness of His reconciling grace, the immortal fidelity of His redeeming love, and the incorruptible facilities of His renewing strength, if we would seek to form some worthy estimate of His priestly greatness.
What a repleteness characterizes His perfect capability, His perpetual constancy, and precious courtesy, which virtues or attributes attract the attention, and command the adoration of countless millions. There can never by any abatement in the appeal of His beauty, nor any retrenchment in the abundance of His bounty and certainly no curtailment in the royal affection of his great heart of benignity. His love is the very light of life, and dignifies all its features, faculties, and felicities; yea, more, the loving-kindness of Christ the Priest promotes the vitality of virtue, provokes the fidelity of faith, procures the pleasures of peace, prompts the harmony of hope, provides the reality of rest, prepares the capacity of confidence, and perfects the beauty of bliss.
The blessedness of holy love as revealed by this royal Priest demonstrates the faithfulness of love's stability, discloses the friendliness of love's sympathy, depicts the fruitfulness of love's sufficiency, designs the fairness of love's sanctity, dignifies the fearlessness of love's security and displays the fullness of love's supernal glory.
Messiah's ministry as priest after the Melchizedek pattern is both munificent in resource and magnificent in range. He bestows the maximum of spiritual blessing on the redeemed multitudes. The magnitude of His maintenance for renewing the mind is measureless. The marvels of His mediative ministrations are linked with supernatural credentials such as qualify no other celebrity. He has complete comprehension of the mysteries of omniscience, which is perfect knowledge. He has the utmost awareness of the ministries of omnipresence, which is perfect kindness in kinship. Yea, verily He has the absolute understanding of the majesties of omnipotence, which is perfect kingship. The exceptional sensibility, essential sympathy, and eternal supremacy are personal prerogatives of this priestly King who is glorious in the beauty of holiness.
He has made available to mankind the priceless treasures of eternal salvation, eternal redemption, and eternal inheritance (Hebrews 5:9; 9:12, 15). "We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Hebrews 8:1).
In a previous study we noted some of the most important contrasts between the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. The nature of Aaron and his sons was not royal, the office held was not perpetual, the sacrifice presented was not spiritual, the offerings made were not effectual, the service rendered was not continual, the garments worn were not immortal, the redemption effected was not eternal, the sanctuary entered was not celestial, the judgment passed was not final, the covenant contracted was not immutable, the title borne was not immemorial, and the glory expressed was not supernal. Every one of these twelve features that were lacking under the Levitical order were fully realized in the priesthood and ministry of Christ. Ye more so, the maximum of the Aaronic achievement was to make atonement with the blood of beasts, whereas Christ by His substitutionary sacrifice secured remission of sins and reconciliation to God. This may account of for the fact that the word "atonement" is not used in the New Testament in relation to the greater work which Christ accomplished. (Romans 5:11, in the A.V. should be reconciliation.)
During the preceding centuries through the medium of promise, parable, and prophecy, God indicated that One would appear who would not only officiate perfectly as priest, but at the same time be princely in royal kingship. The first intimation of this important event was indicated in the meaning of the name Melchizedek, four hundred years prior to the establishment of an hereditary priesthood in the national life of Israel.
Under the Mosaic system could not be a king nor a king act as a priest, whereas under the Melchizedek order it was otherwise; and Christ who came in the line of Judah is both kingly and priestly in His administration. Messiah was legally debarred from functioning in the temple on earth (Hebrews 8:4). He has a sanctuary in which to officiate in the Heavens of heavens (Psalm 68:24, 33).
Let us continually bear in mind and frequently recall the infinite insignia and immutable oath of induction by which this Priest is officially sworn in, even by the eternal Godhead. Features such as these indicate the highest degree of authorization conceivable. Linked with this, metaphors are used which suggest the immaculate purity and ineffable beauty of the One in view, who appears in newborn freshness and fairness as from the womb of the morning. The figure that follows describes the unabating vigor and undiminishing vitality of His abiding energy in the words, "Thou hast the dew of Thy youth" (Psalm 110:3-4). Language such as this emphasizes the immortal loveliness of His exquisite character. Christ is crowned with imperishable glory and was revealed to John on Patmos with His many diadems (Revelation 19:11-12). We all need the vision of this reigning Priest, on a throne of grace, who is in command of all power and in control of the illimitable resources of Heaven and earth. Wherefore He is able to succor the tempted (Hebrews 2:18), able to sympathize with the tried (Hebrews 4:15), able to save the transgressor (Hebrews 7:25), and able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Do we rejoice in the unbroken continuity of His unending and royal Priesthood? In our constant need of maintenance, we do not require to petition for the perpetual patronage of our protector and preserver, for in His ceaseless care "He ever liveth to make intercession" for us. His unwearied watchfulness, His untiring faithfulness, and His unceasing helpfulness are assured in His daily dispositions. By virtue of the beneficence of His attentive glory and the bounty of His amazing generosity, ought we not to be attracted to draw near and commit our way to Him reservedly? Should not prayer become the secret of daily preservation and the source of daily pleasure in the light of our privilege of access to such a Priest? This kingly Mediator is so kindly disposed toward us, we should find our chief delight in coming to Him and communing with Him consistently. No one else is so patiently loving and so perfectly willing to help in every time of need.
What close consoling comfort He ministers in bereavement, what choice compassionate care He manifests in cases of disappointment, and what calm considerate cheer He maintains toward us in our every predicament. He is glorious in majesty at the right hand of power, generous in His ministry of all spiritual blessings, and gracious in His mercy toward His people for evermore. "Such an high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26). This Priest could not have had a predecessor and most certainly can never have a successor.
We stand in the presence of a Priest who, in His priority, propinquity, and perpetuity differs from all others. He is before nature, beyond time, and above space, greatly superior in sovereignty, and grandly sufficient in sympathy. In majesty and might He outranges all kings, in merit and mercy He outclasses all priests, while in His ministry of mediation He outlasts every known official and dignitary that ever was, is, or shall be.
The inauguration of christ in this sacred office constitutes a complete readjustment, which requires the revocation of the entire Mosaic system, and is referred to as the time of rectification. (This word is rendered as reformation in Hebrews 9:10 A.V.)
The Priest who purges our sins bears a nobler name than angels (Hebrews 1:4), holds an unrivaled relationship (v. 5), receives a worthier worship (v. 6), sways a sublimer scepter (v. 8), rules from a transcendent throne (v. 8), has a loftier Lordship (v. 10), abides in complete control (vs. 11-14), is crowned with a greater glory (2:7, 3:3), is invested with higher honor, bestows a better blessing (7:6-7), establishes a settled sabbath of ceaseless satisfaction, by entering a statelier sanctuary (9:10-11), thereby securing perennial perfection (10:14), in order top fit us for a holier habitation. In the light of a ratified new and everlasting covenant with its perpetual unchanging priesthood, with is more excellent glory, it appears highly incredible to the present writer that the Lord will revert again to any part of the earthly Mosaic system.
Christ's priesthood has a value beyond all price, and a virtue above all that is precious, combined with the verity that assures unbroken continuity in the power of an endless life. This makes possible our being more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Romans 8:37). "Now thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge through us in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14).